UNDP: the path to social cohesion in the regions through business development support

February 9, 2024

Daniyar and Asel Atayev at their food processing workshop in Aravan district, Osh province

Danil Usmanov, UNDP Kyrgyzstan

Rural areas are places with enormous potential for the development of successful entrepreneurship. Proper planning and implementation of a sustainable business project can not only provide an entrepreneur with a stable income but can also provide their neighbors and community members with work. The spouses Daniyar and Asel Atayev, who successfully launched the workshop for processing vegetables and fruits in Aravan district in Osh province, are also convinced about this. 

“I spent several years working in Russia, worked for some time in Bishkek, but I always wanted to return and start my own business in my hometown. I didn't want to be apart from my children and parents. So, after saving some money, I came back and started developing business ideas. I tried different types of entrepreneurial activities, but this particular business became successful for me. Like everywhere there were difficult times, I have already experienced ups and downs in business,” says Daniyar. 

Today on store shelves in Osh and Osh province you can find food products under the “Dyikan” brand. The workshop produces tomato paste, lecho, pickles, various types of jam, as well as sumolok, a national food which is recognized and beloved throughout Central Asia. 

“When we were thinking about the products that we would release, we started trying everything that I know how to cook and what is loved in our family. We wanted our products to be in demand, at the same time, those ones the cooking technology of which require a lot of effort and time, in particular for urban residents. Our main driving idea was to use local raw materials. And Aravan is rich for delicious vegetables and fruits compared to any other area in our country.” - says Asel. 

Aravan is located 30 kilometers west of the regional center - the city of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan and is only 5 kilometers from the border with the Republic of Uzbekistan. Most of the population is employed in agriculture. The region is famous for its rare varieties of melons, sweet fruits, and organic vegetables. 

“At the beginning, when we just launched the workshop, everything seemed to be in order, there were good reviews from customers, but sales remained low and there was no income. During this period, I heard about the opportunity to participate in the acceleration program of the UNDP project. To be honest, at first, I didn’t fully understand what it was, and I was more attracted to receiving a grant to develop my business. However, it turned out to be the opposite: it was participation in the acceleration program that gave a powerful push to the development of my business, and the grant was an addition. Before the grant was awarded, we were divided according to our areas of business activity and went through training on how to better establish local production, organize the sale of products and proper logistics as well as the basics of marketing. The theory was supported by examples of successful business models and even online meetings with successful entrepreneurs from Bishkek and other regions who shared their experiences and answered our questions. It was great, I think. And I spent the grant on purchasing quality packing dishes,” shares Daniyar. 

Since their start, the Atayev family’s workshop has doubled in size. Construction of additional premises is currently underway to expand the business. Now 5 women are working in the workshop, and all of them are residents of the Aravan district. 

“We started our business in the open air, there was no roof, and the workshop could only operate in the warm season. Now, in addition to the main workshop premises with six boilers, we even have a separate office space where we meet sellers interested in our products. Here I usually create short videos for our social networks, where I talk separately about each type of product. Advertising on social media is now the main source for finding customers and dealers. Therefore, I actively use skills that I learned while participating in the acceleration program. There are difficult periods, of course, business is not without it. Exercise helps me cope with stress. After several exercises with dumbbells, I begin to feel that I am stronger in every way,” jokes Daniyar.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in the Kyrgyz Republic pays special attention to regional development. In Osh, Jalal-Abad and Batken provinces, our work exemplifies an integrated approach aimed at addressing multi-faceted development challenges, including high youth unemployment and strengthening social cohesion and peaceful development in border areas. To fill these critical gaps, UNDP is leading initiatives that support youth entrepreneurship, which can not only revitalize rural areas and improve their socio-economic infrastructure but also strengthen social cohesion in border areas and facilitate peacebuilding efforts. 

“Today I can say with confidence that our products and the workshop became a reliable partner connecting Aravan with the second largest city in the country. We will continue expanding the work of the workshop and I hope you will soon see our products in markets in Bishkek. Business develops where there are people who can take responsibility to reach success. Therefore, I wish courage to all aspiring entrepreneurs in their pursuit of their SUCCESS!” 


Daniyar is one of the participants in the business acceleration programme “Zhangyration Aimak”, which took place within the framework of the UNDP project “Socio-economic recovery from the negative consequences of Covid-19 in Osh, Jalal-Abad and Batken provinces of the Kyrgyz Republic”, funded by the Russian Federation. The competition was open to all residents of the pilot regions who have an existing business or a feasible business idea but lack the knowledge and financial resources for their development.